After hinting at its new C-X17 concept, Jaguar has finally taken the lid off of its first sports crossover concept vehicle at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. This is not only the first vehicle of its kind to be designed by Jaguar, but it also acts as a demonstration of a new architecture that will be common in future Jaguar models as the company seeks to expand into new markets.
The C-X17 represents a bit of a gamble for Jaguar. The carmaker want to expand its vehicle range to widen its market; especially in the high-growth premium niches. However, Director of Design Ian Callum and his team were also faced with how to do so without morphing Jaguar into a slightly more upmarket version of Vauxhall.
The key to the Jaguar strategy is iQ[Al]. Focused on the company’s £1.5 billion (US$2.3 billion) investment at its plant in Solihull, UK with a global rollout in 2015, iQ[AI] is an advanced aluminum monocoque architecture that will be the basis for the new Jaguar range, starting with a mid-size premium C/D segment sedan.
Under the tagline "anything we can imagine, we can create," the architecture is described by Jaguar as lightweight, extremely stiff, modular, and scalable. The idea behind it is to provide a common, interchangeable architecture for all future Jaguars, which will allow for higher volume production by making it possible to manufacture different products on the same line at the same time, as well as responding to sudden market changes.
The style of the C-X17 showcases the strengths and potential pitfalls of Jaguar’s new strategy. Decked out in Caesium Blue finish, with gloss black brightwork and intimidating 23-inch alloy wheels, it’s clear that the designers want this concept to be a Jag. However, its not as successful as it could be. Despite the touches on the grille, the nose based on the Jaguar XJ, and the I-drink-your-milkshake LED headlamps, it just doesn't make you think of an E-Type.
There are some aggressive lines, a pair of nicely understated air scoops, and it is beautifully proportioned with a low appearance that suggests hidden power, but at the end of the day, it’s a hot hatchback with a glass roof and four-wheel drive.
Jaguar hasn't said what engine is in the C-X17 concept, but it does say that the future Jaguar range will offer a variety of petrol and diesel engines including the V6 engine in the F-Type with top speeds of 300 km/h (186 mph) and emissions of under 100g of carbon dioxide per kilometer.
Jaguar says that, if it were a production car, the C-X17 would have an on-road bias and sedan car-like handling thanks to its optimized center of gravity, and the light weight and all-aluminum body. It features the intelligent All-Wheel Drive system, which continuously monitors grip levels and driver inputs. The system then uses feed-forward torque distribution to respond to wheel-slip, while giving most of the power to the rear wheels when possible. There’s also Torque Vectoring by Braking, which uses the brakes to balance the distribution of engine torque to reduce understeer while taking a corner.
The interior of the C-X17 concept has a very roomy, futuristic look with its four white leather contour bucket seats and the multi-screen infotainment network in case the passengers need to do a bit of social media surfing. The glass roof has contoured vanes and in the boot there are two swing-out “leisure seats” made of milled aluminum and finished in Connolly saddle leather. There’s even a torch and a camera in their own leather holsters.
With all this, it’s no surprise to learn that the brightwork is made of ruthenium.
The driver’s instrument panel incorporates a twin-dial configurable TFT console and a heads-up display to project information on the windscreen. The only real disappointment is that the gear shift is a dial, also decked out in ruthenium. It seems a bit more like tuning a radio than driving, but it does allow the driver to toggle between driving modes such as Road, Sport, or All-Road.
However, the eye catcher of the C-X17’s technology is the Interactive Surface Console that makes up the top of the center tunnel running through the cabin. This is a touchscreen interactive multi-passenger infotainment hub made of transparent acrylic glass that connects with the car’s Wi-Fi network, that allows passengers to share what they think of the C-X17 on Facebook and Twitter while enjoying “a unified multi-sensory experience” via the car’s 28-speaker sound system. Hopefully, the screen is stronger than it looks.
The video below introduces the Jaguar C-X17 Concept.